David Coleman, Immigration Minister, said more than 50,000 applications have been approved in the first five months of 2018-19. This is double the number of applications approved during the same period in the last fiscal year.
Last year, only 80,562 applications for citizenship were approved by the Australian Govt. This has been the lowest so far since 2002-03 when 79,000 people were granted Australian citizenship.
Mr. Coleman expects citizenship numbers to go up by 20,000 over the next 2 months. Between July and November 2018, almost 58,000 citizenship applications have been processed.
Last year, the Dept. of Home Affairs had faced criticism over rising wait times for citizenship approval. There were nearly 245,000 pending citizenship applications by the end of 2017-18. The current waiting time for Australian citizenship approval is 19 to 22 months.
As per the Dept. of Home Affairs, the increase in wait times was due to concerns over national security. The processing times were also lengthened due to an increase in the number of complex cases.
Mr. Coleman said that the Dept. has been directing more resources towards citizenship application processing. He also said that a special task force has been created to handle complex cases. Extra staff has been hired and trained which has cost the Govt. $9 million, as per SBS News. The Govt. has put in all these measures to ensure citizenship applications are dealt with efficiently.
After the Lindt Café siege, Australia has put in extra integrity measures. This is to verify the character and identity of Australian citizenship applicants.
Mr. Coleman said that the citizenship applications will continue to be processed against the measures introduced in 2015. He also said Australian citizenship is a privilege and should only be granted to people who respect the country’s laws and support its values.
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